One Health: An important concept in the combat against allergies

Graphic: Allergy/European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Graphic: Allergy/European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology  1

One Health is a collaboration of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals, plants and the environment. The concept is a strategic programme in the World Health Organization (WHO) and recently became a thematic programme in the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI). Against this background, a recent article by Vetmeduni Vienna examined the topic of allergies. The conclusion: effective solutions are only possible with an interdisciplinary and holistic approach.

One Health – a comprehensive concept for all organic life

The One Health concept represents a paradigm shift away from an isolated approach to include all organic life on our planet: humans, animals and plants, all of which are exposed to global threats. Climate change, pollution, industrial agriculture and food processing have an impact on quality of life and public health. Recent research in the field of allergology shows that many factors increase the risk of allergic diseases: climate change and global warming lead to plant migration, prolonged flowering seasons and increased allergenicity, increasing the risk of developing allergies and more intense symptoms in animals and humans. The industrial processing of food alters its allergenicity by influencing its composition and protein structure. The pollution of water, soil and air also affects the allergenicity of proteins in the environment, plants and animals, as does the depletion of microbial diversity and nutrients in the soil, which could leave proteins in plants without ligands and molecular binding partners, further enhancing the allergenicity. “Many more of these factors may be intertwined, offering a wide field for future studies,” says first author Isabella Pali-Schöll from the interuniversity Messerli Research Institute of Vetmeduni Vienna, Meduni Wien and Uni Wien.

An EAACI working group (WG on One Health) is set to take the first steps towards applying the One Health concept in allergology.

Cow milk allergen as paradigm

In their article, summarising the current research situation, the comparative medicine research group at the Messerli Research Institute of Vetmeduni Vienna shows how the One Health approach can be applied to allergies using the example of the milk protein beta-lactoglobulin. “Living on farms with cows and drinking raw milk protects against allergies because of the whey protein beta-lactoglobulin (BLG). As we have been able to show in our studies, BLG is not only detectable in the dust on farms but also in the ambient air and even in the farmers’ beds. Together with its binding molecules, it directs the immune system away from allergies,” says Pali-Schöll.

Collaboration of all stakeholders as an effective counter-strategy

“Following the One Health concept, we must now systematically investigate the environmental impact on this immunological effect in humans, animals and plants,” Isabella Pali-Schöll continues. In this context, for example, the question arises as to which factors affect the loading of beta-lactoglobulin and thus the allergenicity of this protein in milk and in the farm environment. The animal feed as well as stress, diseases, living and growing conditions, nutritional state of the animals and general environmental conditions could all affect the ligand availability and binding efficacy to BLG. According to Pali-Schöll, researching the causes more precisely is not the only important thing: “In the course of further research into the mechanisms that lead to allergies or protect against them, the resulting findings should be systematically collected and strategically used to involve industry, politicians, veterinarians, breeders and, of course, medical practitioners in the discussion process. The ultimate aim is to improve husbandry conditions and food production methods in order to prevent allergies in humans and animals.” To systematically address similar problems, the One Health approach has been adopted within the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology and a working group was recently set up to deal exclusively with the One Health theme. Isabella Pali-Schöll is a co-initiator and board member, making her an “influencer” for international colleagues from a wide range of disciplines ( 2).

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